An effective safety program requires identification and communication of hazards that exist in a workplace or customer-accessible area of a business and the countermeasures in place to reduce the risk of an incident. The terms hazard, risk, incident, and others are used here as defined in “Safety First! Or is It?”
A hazard map is a highly-efficient instrument for conveying critical information regarding Safety, Health, and Environmental (SHE) hazards due to its visual nature and standardization. While some countermeasure information can be presented on a Hazard Map, it is often more salient when presented on a corollary Body Map. Use of a body map is often a prudent choice; typically, the countermeasure information most relevant to many individuals pertains to the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). The process used to develop a Hazard Map and its corollary Body Map will be presented.
Hazard mapping originated with Italian auto workers’ attempts to raise awareness of workplace hazards in the 1960s. A factory blueprint was adorned with circles of varying size and color, each representing a particular hazard and the risk associated with it.
When this map was presented to management by the workers’ union, it was rejected. The company claimed that it was unscientific and, therefore, unreliable. Subsequent research by scientists, however, substantiated the workers’ empirical findings.
To impart the greatest value, hazard mapping efforts, and the entirety of the safety program, should employ both scientific (data collection and analysis) and empirical (observations and perceptions) methods. When findings from both methods correlate, management support for investment in safety improvements should be forthcoming. When they do not, further investigation may be necessary to ensure that all hazards are receiving the attention they warrant, be it from management or from imperiled individuals.
Hazard maps come in many forms, as there is no single, widely-accepted standard. Various organizations have established hazard classification schemes, risk rating scales, color codes, and symbology to be used in the creation of their hazard maps. Standardization within an organization is critical to effective communication to employees, contractors, and others throughout its facilities. Standardization across organizations is highly desirable, but has not yet come to fruition.
The next section proposes a hazard classification and risk rating scheme targeting four key characteristics of an effective communication tool. Such a tool should be:
The JayWink Standard
The standard proposed here exhibits the four key characteristics described above. Consistency is achieved by describing each hazard category and risk severity category such that practitioners can easily differentiate between them.
There are four risk severity categories that encompass a 1 – 10 risk rating scale, as follows:
The visual nature of the standard is partially revealed in Exhibit 1; the color codes for hazard classifications and risk severity categories are shown. Risk severity categories are presented as follows:
The standard maintains universality, in part, by incorporating standard, recognizable symbols defined in ISO 7010 Graphical symbols – Safety colours and safety signs – Registered safety signs; the global standard provides international users a common resource. Limiting the number of hazard classifications and symbols used facilitates broad application in a wide variety of environments. This standard is equally applicable to manufacturing operations and service industries of all types, in both front-office and back-office settings. It can also be applied to government buildings, community centers, parks, or other publicly-accessible areas to facilitate protection of patrons.
The hazard mapping standard is highly compatible with other communication tools in common use. The 1 – 10 scale is similar to the severity, occurrence, and detection scales used in FMEA. The four color-coded risk severity categories are analogous to the Homeland Security Advisory System (replaced in 2011) that warned the USA of terrorist threats. The hazard classification color code also incorporates broadly-recognized implications – red and yellow are commonly associated with safety concerns, while green is “the” color representing matters of concern for the environment.
Creating a Hazard Map
To create a Hazard Map, begin with a visual representation of the area under scrutiny, such as a layout, as discussed in Commercial Cartography – Vol. III. If a layout has not been created, a sketch, photo, or other image may suffice, provided sufficient detail can be shown and hazard locations are accurate enough to effectively manage them. Larger facilities may require several Hazard Maps to present all required information clearly. For example, each department of a manufacturing facility may have its own map. A small retail outlet, on the other hand, may be sufficiently documented on a single map.
As is the case with many Operations documents, Hazard Maps often proceed through several draft stages before they are published. A moderately complex map may be developed, for example, in the following four stages.
Creation of a first draft begins by adding hand-written notes to a layout drawing. A small group of knowledgeable individuals can brainstorm the area’s hazards, completing this step quickly. The next step is to collect information for the map’s legend. Hand-written notes are also recommended here to maintain the flow of information in the group.
Convert the hand-written notes into hazard descriptions and classifications; evaluate each and assign a risk rating number. Create a composite symbol representing each hazard identified and add it to the layout as shown in Exhibit 4. A hazard symbol can be placed on a map to identify the location of a hazard as an entire area or a specific machine, work cell, process line, etc. In the Simple Hazard Map Example, the first two hazards use leaders to identify the location as the “Chemical Store,” while the other locations are more general. The less-specific locations can be interpreted as “approximate,” “the area surrounding the symbol,” or other similar statement. If greater precision is required than can be made obvious on the layout, greater detail should be included in the hazard description on the map legend, such as a machine ID.
Complete the Hazard Map Legend for the hazards identified, adding any missing information on countermeasures and reaction plans and color-coding the hazard and risk information columns, as shown in Exhibit 5.
A second draft is created by conducting an onsite review to verify information included in the first draft and identify new hazards to be added. The first two drafts are created, primarily, by scientific methods; thus, any SHE data available should be incorporated.
The third draft is created by incorporating the empirical data collected from “front-line” personnel. Observations and perceptions that have not previously been recorded, in SHE data or otherwise, must be evaluated and properly addressed. Legitimate hazards are added to the map and put “on the radar” for development of additional protections or elimination strategies. Unfounded concerns should be alleviated through education, but should never be ignored.
A final review by all concerned parties should result in a Hazard Map approved for publication. To be complete, a Hazard Map must include three components:
(1) the layout with composite symbols identifying the hazard location and basic information (Exhibit 4);
(2) the legend table containing detailed hazard information (Exhibit 5); and
(3) an explanation of the composite symbols (Exhibit 3 and Exhibit 5).
Hazard Maps are most valuable when they are collaboratively developed, prominently displayed for easy reference, and all personnel have a working understanding of the information presented on them. Large facilities with multiple hazard maps may find it useful to compile data from all maps into a “Master Legend,” creating a single reference for hazards throughout the entire plant. A Master Legend can be sorted in various ways to facilitate resource allocation decisions for SHE projects. For example, grouping by hazard classification may reveal opportunities to improve several areas with a single project or provide background data for OSHA partner programs or ISO 14001 initiatives. Also, sorting by risk rating can facilitate prioritization of projects among disparate areas of the facility.
Hazard Maps – and the underlying data and perceptions – should be periodically reviewed and updated. Process development, equipment upgrades, risk mitigation projects, organizational changes, and other factors could cause significant changes in the hazard and risk profiles of a facility. Hazard Maps must reflect current conditions to be effective.
Creating a Body Map
Human nature ensures that individuals will focus, predominantly, on their immediate well-being and somewhat less on their long-term health. Environmental issues, while important, tend to enjoy less mindshare than more proximate causes of distress. This tendency will direct attention toward the countermeasures recorded in Hazard Map Legends. These are the mechanisms by which individuals protect themselves from hazards. The most salient – and easiest to implement reliably – is often PPE; proper use of PPE is critical to a safe environment. A simple and effective tool to support proper use is a PPE Body Map, or simply Body Map.
Several options exist for presenting required PPE on a body map. The example in Exhibit 6 uses a generic outline of a human form with standard symbols (ISO 7010) placed near the part of the body to be protected.
Exhibit 7 provides a more relatable image of a person, but some ambiguity may remain (“Is that a fire suit?”). The image in Exhibit 8 is more realistic, conveying more information visually than the previous example. Text provides additional information to aid understanding of the types of hazards from which each protects the user. The symbols, however, may not be universally understood, particularly by international associates.
The most information may be conveyed with the least effort when standard symbols and detailed text accompany a photo of person wearing the PPE described. This is the recommended format of Body Map; an example is shown in Exhibit 9. Any text added to the body map should be succinct and critical to proper use of PPE. Examples of appropriate text include specifications (e.g. ANSI Z87.1 for safety glasses, filtration level requirements for respirators) or additional requirements (e.g. cut-resistance rating for gloves).
The Body Map can be further augmented, if desired, with direct references to the Hazard Map Legend. For example, the composite symbol “flags” can be reproduced adjacent to the PPE identifiers. Some examples of this practice are shown in Exhibit 9. Doing so may reinforce users’ understanding of the Hazard Map and the importance of proper PPE. In turn, this could facilitate training and reduce the effort required to monitor and enforce proper PPE use.
Body Map developers must weigh the benefits of additional information against the risk of information overload – sometimes, less is more. Publish Body Maps that will provide the greatest benefit to individuals and the organization – ones that will be referenced regularly and understood thoroughly.
As mentioned in the introduction, a Body Map is a corollary to – not a component of – a Hazard Map. It is, however, a relatively simple step that adds value to the safety program by translating hazard information into an easily-understood format that helps individuals protect themselves.
Like Hazard Maps and other documents, Body Maps should be subject to periodic review to verify that current information is provided and individuals are adequately protected. Overlaying incident data on a PPE Body Map can be an effective aid to evaluating current protection measures.
Hazard maps and body maps are valuable additions to an organization’s SHE toolbox. The information assembled to create them supports improvement initiatives on several fronts; creativity and insight of practitioners may reveal additional opportunities to leverage these tools across their organizations.
For additional guidance or assistance creating Hazard Maps for your organization’s facilities or other Operations challenges, feel free to leave a comment, contact JayWink Solutions, or schedule an appointment.
For a directory of “Commercial Cartography” volumes on “The Third Degree,” see Vol. I: An Introduction to Business Mapping.
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[Link] “Using Hazard Maps to Identify and Eliminate Workplace Hazards: A Union-Led Health and Safety Training Program,” Joe Anderson, Michele Collins, John Devlin, and Paul Renner. NEW SOLUTIONS - A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy; September 2012.
[Link] “Job Hazard Analysis.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor; 2002.
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[Link] “Risk-Mapping.” DC 37 Safety & Health Factsheet, District Council 37, New York, New York.
Jody W. Phelps, MSc, PMP®, MBA
JayWink Solutions, LLC
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